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[lit-er-uh-see] /ˈlɪt ər ə si/
the quality or state of being literate, especially the ability to read and write.
possession of education:
to question someone's literacy.
a person's knowledge of a particular subject or field: to acquire computer literacy;
improving your financial literacy.
Origin of literacy
1880-85; liter(ate) + -acy
Related forms
antiliteracy, adjective
2. learning, culture. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for literacy
  • Ability to interpret technical information and communicate to users with varying levels of technology literacy.
  • Of course, literacy was limited in the eighteenth century, and those who could read had limited access to books.
  • But the image alters as you read about the rise in literacy levels in the state.
  • It's insulting, giving the climb in literacy, knowledge and higher education in the population.
  • There is research suggesting that secondary orality and literacy don't mix.
  • Reading that prose is one of the great joys that literacy bestows on the sentient.
  • There is no denying that basic scientific literacy in this country is lower than it could be and should be.
  • literacy was already widely-disseminated in the fifteenth century.
  • Science literacy will play a vital role in addressing major national challenges such as formulating energy policy.
  • Instead the focus on literacy and numeracy is gradually squeezing opportunity for student directed learning out of the curriculum.
British Dictionary definitions for literacy


the ability to read and write
the ability to use language proficiently
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for literacy

1883, formed in English from literate + -cy. Illiteracy, however, dates back to 17c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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